Michael Leroy Storm, after a valiant fight with complications from heart disease, was joyously
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welcomed into the presence of the Lord, Monday, February 24, 2020.
Mike was born in Jefferson City, Missouri to Albert Leroy Storm and Dorothy Rae Gavin Storm
February 8, 1943, the first of three children. Raised in Joplin, Missouri, Mike’s indomitable spirit
to succeed in any arena of endeavor was cultivated on the competitive sports fields and school
gyms of his beloved hometown. He played football for the JHS Eagles and was a state Golden
Gloves champion while still in high school.
Mike was a 1961 graduate of Joplin High School, and after graduation enlisted in the armed
forces. A Vietnam-era veteran, he served his country proudly in the United States Air Force from
1962-1966, flying all over the world carrying cargo – deployed at one point to a U.S. base in
South Korea - and honorably discharged at the rank of Sergeant.
While in the Air Force, Mike met and married the love of his life and wife of fifty-six years,
Deanna Durbin Storm. After living in the Detroit area, the Dallas area, Brampton, Ontario, and
San Antonio, Mike and Deanna retired to Aubrey, Texas where they were members of
Fellowship Church and pursued their lifelong passion for landscaping, gardening and antiquing -
and enjoying time with their family. Mike was a devoted father to daughter Tammy Lynn Storm
Ross and son Michael Gavin Storm, who preceded his father in death. He also was proud
‘Grandad’ to four grandchildren: Michael Brandon Walker (Caitlyn), Zachary Ross (Angela),
Cheyenne Ross and Maryssa Storm; and five great-grandchildren.
Mike is survived by two sisters, Marcy Carter (Jim), Lynchburg, Virginia and Patricia Storm
Broyles, Knoxville, Tennessee. He is also survived by mother-in-law Helen Reedy, sister-in-law
Nancy Reedy, sister-in-law Deborah Reedy-Meads (Ed) and “honorary brother-in-law” Ed Ralph
Reedy, as well as many nieces and nephews and their spouses, great nieces and nephews,
As a 1969 graduate of the School of Business of Missouri Southern State College (now
University), Mike was a member of the first four-year class of the college. Forever loyal and
supportive of his alma mater, Mike was honored in weekend festivities in October of 1989 by the
college as MSSC Outstanding Alumnus of the Year.
Mike was admired for his native intelligence and was well-known - and greatly loved - for his
razor-sharp, rapid-fire wit. His fierce determination to succeed was fueled by a relentless
dedication to hard work and pursuit of excellence. After graduation from MSSC, he was
recruited by Ford Motor Company for the Marketing Division. His career advancements,
achievements and accolades came early and continued at a steady pace.
In 1974, he was awarded Ford’s Management Excellence Award, receiving his management
excellence ring from the legendary Lee Iaccoca, who was at the helm of Ford at that time. In the
same year, Mike was recruited by American Motor Company (AMC) for the role of Sales
Promotion Manager, Kansas City Division. He was promoted consistently over the next decade
in a series of sales and marketing management roles with accompanying sales awards, first in
Dallas, Texas and then Detroit, Michigan. In 1986, he was promoted to National Director for
Sales Operations, AMC Canada, the second highest corporate position in Canada for AMC, in
charge of all Canadian sales efforts. He joined Chrysler Canada in 1987 after its acquisition of
AMC and was named General Marketing Manager of Jeep/Eagle Division, garnering historically
record-breaking Jeep sales. In1988, he was appointed General Marketing Manager for
Chrysler/Plymouth/ Dodge Division.
In progressively responsible executive roles, Mike was always energized by the challenges of
market development, sales training, and creating and rolling out innovative national advertising
programs and campaigns, supervising the work of several global advertising agencies and
television production companies. Mike, with Deanna at his side, was completely at home in his
role of ‘official host’ for premier sales incentive trips for Canadian automotive dealers and their
wives – ranging from private stays in Scottish castles, to a dealer-exclusive trip on the Orient
Express, complete with a staged Agatha Christie-type “murder”, to sheep ranches in Australia
and New Zealand.
When he returned to the states, he resumed corporate marketing management roles for
Chrysler in Detroit, where he was part of Lee Iacocca’s monthly senior management meetings.
After taking early retirement in the automotive industry, Mike took his formidable automotive
advertising expertise to the advertising agency side of the business, working for ad agency
giant BBDO in Dallas, Texas for several years before embarking on a second retirement.
Of all his chapters, however, Chapter Three would become the most meaningful part of Mike’s
journey. Mike became involved with a senior executive program in the Dallas area to mentor
first offense felons to keep them from returning to jail. His innate leadership strengths as a
motivator, coach, decision-maker and team builder- which served him so well in earning lifelong
career recognition – served these disadvantaged young men in an even greater purpose. Mr.
Storm, as they called him, was one of the most successful mentors in the program. His secret
was no different than it was when interviewing a hungry young automotive salesman.
He said, “I simply asked them one question, what makes you happy?” To the man, each replied,
“No one has ever asked me that question before.” Ever the mentor, Mr. Storm said, “Well, if we
can figure out what makes you happy, we can figure out how to keep you from going back to
prison.” He encouraged, motivated, trained, inspired, made them accountable and expected
nothing short of what he would expect of himself - hard work and dedication every day. Letter
upon letter of thanks confirms his formula worked. He eventually became a probation officer of
the court with the county and reflected that the entire fifteen years’ experience was the most
important work of his life. He finally retired at age 75. At a time when many businessmen of his
era retired to spend their time golfing or fishing, Mike was still in business – the business of
transforming lives. His great heart given to those who needed it most.
Mike maintained membership in the Veterans of Foreign Wars Earl J. Bruton Post. He will be
missed by so many in the Joplin community, including his many brothers at Joplin Elk Lodge
The family requests any donations in his honor be made to Missouri Southern State University
Foundation online at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 417.625.3104.
A Celebration of Life with military honors will be held in Joplin, Missouri Saturday, May 1st, 2021 10am at Saginaw Baptist Church, Saginaw Cemetery.